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D&D 3E
Fractional Advancement and Undead Templates 
9th-Jul-2009 11:00 pm
Tree Canopy
Two random questions:

1) 2 (of 7) of my players are heavily pushing the Fractional Advancement rules from Unearthed Arcana, and one of their arguments for it is that it's very commonly used. How many of you use this ruleset?

2) Anyone know of a good, balanced Half-Undead, Good Undead, or any other sort of PC-able Undead template? I've only seen the Undying as a creature writeup in Eberron, and a race from Dragon that just seemed a bit unbalanced.
10th-Jul-2009 03:13 am (UTC)
1: fractional advancement is a choice. I've never used it.

2: undead PCs ARE unbalanced, unless you change what "undead" means or make all PCs the same.

10th-Jul-2009 03:28 am (UTC)
I'm curious what you mean in #2. Especially about changing what "undead" means.
10th-Jul-2009 04:20 am (UTC)
"undead" in 3e means a creature type. Go read.

You get categorical immunity to whole classes of attacks (mind control, phantasms, most fear, poison, critical hits, exhaustion), darkvision, and the mother of all dump stats. ("Sure, I'll put my 3 in Constitution -- it goes away, anyway.") Oh, and you never need to eat, breathe, or sleep.

10th-Jul-2009 04:58 am (UTC)
Yeah. This is the main reason undead are rarely available for PCs. While being undead does come with new penalties, like being able to be turned and relatively low HP for combat classes, it is still far outweighed by all the bonuses.

To balance them for PC use would require you to either wait until the bonuses don't matter much or cripple the character to the point they're just a walking immunity and not much else. The Lich is an example of the former. Level adjustment of +4 and requiring at least 11 levels of a spellcaster class means the lich will be in a group of level 15 characters, at which level undead immunities are much less significant, as most characters will have some kind of resistance or immunity to lots of them anyway through magic items and such.

However, if a character was going to be undead, I would have them roll 5, not 6 ability scores, so they can't just dump the lowest one.
10th-Jul-2009 06:56 am (UTC)
Constructs have many of the same immunities and also dump a stat, but they still churned out this little race called the Warforged. I'm assuming you feel that they changed what "construct" means.
10th-Jul-2009 08:36 am (UTC)
by creating a living construct subtype, sure
10th-Jul-2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
Right, thus creating a PC-able construct race. So to put it more simply, have they ever done the same thing for undead?
11th-Jul-2009 01:21 am (UTC)
Put simply, no. However a Living Dead subtype might not be hard to finagle. Copy the Warforged and give it a new coat of dead paint.
10th-Jul-2009 03:20 am (UTC)
1. We ended up using it after a player wasn't paying attention and multiclassed a bunch of times. It gave him more reasonable saves, which was good, as we were sick of him failing Fort and Will saves.
10th-Jul-2009 06:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I think these two are really driving for - I can't see any major advantage to it except that it lets them multiclass wildly across the board with our XP houserules.
10th-Jul-2009 03:31 am (UTC)
CrystalKeep has a number of useful pdf files. Including this one: http://www.crystalkeep.com/d20/rules/DnD3.5Index-Templates.pdf which lists undead templates (among others).

I've never even heard of Fractional Advancement, but I don't use UA.
10th-Jul-2009 06:20 am (UTC)
1) I don't use Fractional Advancement, in part because I feel that certain (melee-based) builds are intended to lose that point of attack at 1/4 levels. And since I usually follow the exercise of working within those restrictions when building a character, I like to see them in play when running a game for characters. I don't think it messes the game up at all to use them, but it's not a house rule I'm interested in using. PCs hit enough as is. They were not that common among players in my experience.

2) iirc, the Necropolitan feat (Libris Mortis I believe) is the assumed "less cheesy" way of getting an Undead character. Templates in general aren't balanced--they overpower the PCs in some way and underpower them in others so they don't work in any manner.
10th-Jul-2009 06:50 am (UTC)
1) I feel the same way. I don't think it crashes the game either way, but it'd be one less non-core ruleset I'd have to explain to new players down the line.

2) Just skimming over it, that's pretty close to what I was looking for. The 3000gp and 1000xp is sort of odd.
10th-Jul-2009 08:39 am (UTC)
1) also never used Fractional Advancement

2) I have Necopolitan experience, and while the template is offset by level loss, you still get blanket undead immunities. You wind up way ahead regardless. I recommend the Half-vampire template, which doesn't change your type to undead.

There's also a feat for elves in Player's Guide to Eberron, but that just gives you a bonus to necro spells.
10th-Jul-2009 07:21 am (UTC)
Dragon Magazine number 313 had rules for half-undead, which I seem to recall not being horribly overpowered...it might be worth looking at. I don't have the magazine in front of me, however.

I can also recommend looking at the Libris Mortis, which has classes, kits, creatures, etc, that all relate to the undead. You may find something you like in there.

Hope this was at least marginally helpful. :)
(Deleted comment)
10th-Jul-2009 11:11 am (UTC)
I have a campaign running right now with an Eleti Rogue, and while his hardiness has started to show (now that the party is level 8 and he has more than a paper-thin coating of HPs), I haven't felt that it's unbalanced yet. (Actually, it's his Rogue Blade that is the biggest contributor to his toughness these days -- it's amazing what happens when a party has an Artificer.)
10th-Jul-2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the big block of text but this is one I came up with a while back that might work for you, with a +0 level adjustment.

 Variable Size: At character creation, the revenant is either a Medium or Small creature, as chosen by the player. A small revenant gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but uses a smaller weapon than Medium-sized creatures do and their lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.
 Revenant base land speed is 30 feet.
 Semblance: Because a revenant is reanimated from the body of any of the common races, they can be disguised to look like a member of their previous race (without the -2 penalty of disguising as a different race).
Furthermore, when emulating their previous race with the Use Magic Device skill, they gain a +2 bonus on the check.
Despite appearing similar to a member of any of the common races, the revenant has none of its properties (such as special attacks and qualities, natural armor, etc), if any.
 +2 Strength, -2 Dexterity, plus any racial adjustments its previous race had.
 Sapient Undead: A revenant is an Undead with the Sapient Undead subtype. As such, it has the following traits:
 A sapient undead derives its Hit Dice, base attack bonus progression, saving throws, and skill points from the class it selects.
 Unlike other undead, a sapient undead has a Constitution score. A sapient undead does not gain bonus hit points by size but gains (or loses) bonus hit points through a Constitution bonus (or penalty) as with other living creatures.
 Unlike some other undead, a sapient undead does not have low-light vision.
 A sapient undead has darkvision to a range of 60 feet.
 Unlike other undead, a sapient undead is not immune to mind-influencing effects.
 Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, disease, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, and energy drain.
 A sapient undead cannot heal damage naturally.
 Unlike other undead, sapient undead are subject to critical hits, effects requiring a Fort save, death from massive damage, nonlethal damage, stunning, ability damage, ability drain, and death effects or necromancy effects.
 Sapient undead can be affected by spells that target living creatures as well as by those that target undead. Damage dealt to a sapient undead can be healed by an inflict light wounds spell or any other spell that would heal undead, such as harm, for example, and a sapient undead is vulnerable to a heal spell, just like a standard undead.
 A sapient undead responds slightly differently from other living creatures when reduced to 0 hit points. A sapient undead with 0 hit points is disabled, just like a living creature. He can only take a single move action or standard action in each round, but strenuous activity does not risk further injury. When his hit points are less than 0 and greater than -10, a sapient undead is inert. He is unconscious and helpless, and he cannot perform any actions. However, an inert sapient undead does not lose additional hit points unless more damage is dealt to him, as with a living creature that is stable.
 Can be raised or resurrected.
 Does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe, but can still benefit from the effects of consumable spells and magic items such as heroes' feast and potions.
 Does not need to sleep, but must rest for 8 hours before preparing spells.
 Automatic Language: Common. Bonus Languages: Any (other than secret languages, such as Druidic). A Revenant will typically learn any languages its previous race would know, although it is up to the individual.

10th-Jul-2009 10:32 pm (UTC)
This seems very balanced. I applaud you for coming up with it.
10th-Jul-2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
1) I've let characters play using fractional advancement. It isn't a huge deal, since it only really affects those that are either Casters (thus making their Fort/Reflex marginally better, but not by much), Rogue-likes (thus making their base attack marginally better), or some combination of the two. I'm a big fan of multiclassing, so I prefer to lean towards encouraging it. I've only ever had two PCs take advantage of it though.

2) No. They're all unbalanced in my opinion, either overpowered or underpowered depending on if they're visibly different or not.
13th-Jul-2009 12:06 am (UTC)
1. Nope, don't use it at all

2. One of the base assumptions in my campaign is that player characters start out alive, and when they stop being alive they stop being player characters. Since "undead" equals "not alive", then "undead" also equals "not a player character".
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